Robert Beck/SI
Robert Beck/SI

Welcome to My League

Imagine Richard Sherman taking over Roger Goodell's job as NFL commissioner. What would the Seattle Seahawks cornerback’s reign look like? For one, the interests of the guys in pads would be paramount

By
Richard Sherman
· More from Richard·

I’m Richard Sherman. I’m a guy who plays cornerback for the Seahawks, who makes $550,000 a year to control a small sliver of one of 32 NFL fields on any given Sunday. But let’s imagine, for a moment, I’m a much more powerful man, one who earns a salary—$30 million—higher than the best-paid player in the league. I’m the man who, for better or worse, holds the future of pro football in his palm.

I’m the commissioner of the NFL.

It’s a difficult job, I’m sure, working for the owners while looking out for the welfare of the players. It always seems like a happy balance is being struck in late April, when a parade of draftees crosses the stage at Radio City Music Hall, each one giving Roger Goodell a handshake and a hug after his name is called. But for the rest of the year it’s clear that the interests of the 1,700 players pale in importance to those of the 32 owners.

But I, Commissioner Sherman, am here to fix that, so let’s get started.

The first thing I would do is give up some of my power. I’d leave the whole fine system for on-field actions to a committee of former players and former coaches. I’d create a system of checks and balances, something like a democracy. (Crazy, right?)

If I were commissioner, I’d listen to Brandon Meriweather because he’s expressed something that many players think but are afraid to say. When the Redskins safety said he was going to start targeting the ACLs of offensive players, his message was understood by his peers but confusing to fans and media. The defenseless-receiver rule is forcing tacklers to target knees. Offensive players bend down to protect their knees, and if we target the waist, we collide with their heads and get fined. If we target the knees, we don’t get fined, and sometimes they don’t get up.

With hits to the head outlawed and drawing heavy punishment, safety Brandon Meriweather has vowed to aim low. That could prove dangerous for receivers like Calvin Johnson. (Jonathan Newton/Getty Images)
With hits to the head outlawed and drawing heavy punishment, safety Brandon Meriweather has vowed to aim low. That could prove dangerous for receivers like Calvin Johnson. (Jonathan Newton/Getty Images)

If I were commissioner, I’d listen to Hamza Abdullah, too. He’s the former pro who just blasted the league on Twitter for several things, including its handling of retiree benefits. I’d streamline the system to make it easier for players who need disability money to get it. Many ex-players would rather suffer than jump through the NFL’s hoops. They have to file paperwork, wait several months, go see this doctor on this day, a specialist on that day, and if they miss a deadline, they’re ineligible. That’s just how the league is, but not the way it has to be.

If I were commissioner, I wouldn’t ask a player to take a pay cut to play for a championship. Players are now paid postseason bonuses that are usually less than their standard regular-season game check. The compensation should consistently mirror the profits, regular season or not.

If I were commissioner, I’d be very transparent about where fines end up. In my regime all the money from helmet-to-helmet fines would go directly to fund treatment for players suffering from injuries from head trauma.

This league is not all about ‘the Shield’ and all the name brands this commissioner has sold it to. The NFL is nothing without the players.

If I were commissioner, I’d give the players back their individuality. I wouldn’t pretend that knee and thigh pads prevent injuries. I’d never fine players for wearing the wrong length socks or cleats with too much or too little of one team color. I’d let them wear whatever they want for interviews at their own lockers. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch would be free to promote his Beast Mode merchandise—which supports his charity—in any way he chooses, as long as he doesn’t do it during a game. I’d understand that this league is not all about “the Shield” and all the name brands this commissioner has sold it to. The NFL is nothing without the players, individuals whose creativity should be celebrated.

If I were commissioner, I’d actually care about my players. I’d recognize that most of them don’t spend more than three years in the NFL, and when they’re done, many of them are broken in mind and body, and I’d do everything I could to genuinely help them in their transition from athlete to retiree.

And if that were too difficult, if I found it was impossible to do the job asked of me by NFL owners and still do right by players, I’d do those incoming rookies the favor of not offering a hug they’ll soon regret.

More from The MMQB
211 comments
smfh80
smfh80

i think his comments and insight are reasonable. 

jds370z
jds370z

if Richard Sherman ran the NFL. all players would have fake hair down to their butts. all concession stands would only serve fried chicken, collard greens, pickled pigs feet, ox tail, watermelon. for drinks only 40's style malt liquor, ripple,grape soda, Henessey. only music played would be jungle bunny, tribal beat music, ghetto rap & every seat would have it's own sub woofer. all uniforms would be bight green ,purple, yellow and any other obnoxious color in the rainbow. all players will be required to grab or hold their (d)icks for a minimum 75 times or 40 minutes. when a TD, interception, great tackle or any other great play is made the player and no more than 3 other players must do a  jungle bunny celebration dance for a minimum of 30 seconds. all cheerleaders must have a huge (a)ss and be able to twerk, when they stop twerking their (a)ss fat must continue to flop for another 3 seconds. when doing interviews you have to scream into the mic ranting & raving with a crazed look on your face, telling everyone your the greatest player at your position & no one can beat you. players will be required to take as many cheap shots then can. if a flag is thrown on you, the player must get in the referee face and scream and yell at him. most importantly if your team loses or anything bad happens or anything you don't agree with you have to BLAME WHITE PEOPLE.

Darrel K
Darrel K

You missed one Commissioner. Fix the stupid replay rule these knuckleheads have implemented. Replays should be complete within 30 seconds and if the it takes longer the on field call sits.


The play where Bowman recovered the fumble but not being a play that's available for replay only shows how corrupt the FO of football is.


Oh yeah, can you please stop the networks from showing the billionaires in their suites? WTF does that have to do with football?

rooney5432
rooney5432

Great stuff!  I agree with everything except the product promotion stuff.  I think there is plenty of opportunity to promote off the field with endorsements.  I don't want the NFL to look cheesy with guys wearing all kinds of logos and trying to slide promos into their interviews like NASCAR.

terrace420
terrace420

Followthebroke your a joke . And it is the new millinium , so what players have a dance or two , its not 1930s where it's cool for woman to smoke cigs and stay he with kids. A little dance and strut , makes it fun to watch if you don't like it turn away or watch a sport that doesn't excite you . I'm sure your not a nba fan , they are the worse when it comes to talking $hit or slamming nuts in oppenents faces and we all love it . Except haters and prudes, I'm sure your one of the two . FYI GO HAWKS !!!

FollowtheMoney
FollowtheMoney

Richard - Nice article.  Creatively written.  BUT, if I was Commissioner, I would make sure that the players learn to celebrate a touchdown (or even a first down?  Really!) like a man instead of a spoiled brat.  As Lombardi said:  "Act like you've been there before."  Hand the ball to the nice man in the stripes and give your buddy a slap on the back for the great block.  And just because you happen to be on defense, you're not off the hook.  Sack dances and hovering over the WR you just laid out are Low Class.  As a group, your post-game interviews give credit to everyone else but your antics on the field just say, "Look at me!"  Maybe I'm mistaken to think that I can offer an opinion for all fans, but I think most of us are sick of it.  

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

the NFL would be nothing without the fan's first the players second and the owners last getting paid 30 million a year to screw over certain teams and allow the ref's to cheat straight out how much does the ref's make? just wondering cause they must be making not much if they are betting on the side and using their power in the game to change the game and cheat teams out of wins to profit their pockets I say any ref's cheat they get kicked out and not allowed to ref again those that make bad calls and no calls that should be made or one sided officiating should be penalized

terrace420
terrace420

And ped's that's so last year dip $hits . Come with new material , like we suck at 8-1 and whiners got are number . Troll elsewhere this is sherm and hawk pride news . So please hate elsewhere please I hate u haters so much , I wish bad breath and stinky upper lips on all you hawk haters , so keep that in mind as you troll our seahawks news or a seahawks player . Stay on your own teams blogs, we don't care to hear you gross mouths ...

GO HAWKS !!!!

terrace420
terrace420

Lol ,randomdeletion you sure your not roger as a fake name . Spend your time writing for someone who cares, sherm is saying his thoughts and what he would address as commissioner . Not solve world peace , you must be bored and have no life . Btw Richard is better in life then you !!!!

GO HAWKS !!!!

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

 First of all you don't even know what the commissioner does, so you are obviously clueless to comment on it and suggest what you would do differently.  Roger does not review and levy fines.  So that is already delegated.  Additionally it would not be in the league's interest to have a review board of sympathetic figures that would not levy the fines in the interest of altering the play on the field in the manner in which the league wants it altered.  

Second of all only an idiot would listen to Brandon.  He may be saying what others are saying, but being afraid to say it is flat out stupid.  There would be no repercussions for saying it.  What he said was that he would target knees in the interest of ending careers or at least that player's season.  Why?  To make a point?  What is so intellectually lacking in making a point in that way is it is disingenuous.  He doesn't care whatsoever about what the league is trying to do, he only cares for himself and proving what a tough guy he thinks he is on the football field.  An intelligent counter to the reality of the situation you agree with Richard, would be to point out that offensive players lower their head which at times causes the defender to hit them helmet to helmet and the league should fine the one causing the collision.  Thus offensive players should be fined for lowering their head.  The league has already started to address that and it should only be reinforced by the defensive players.  That is if they want to be taken seriously intellectually concerning the matter at hand.

Hamza just spouted off in a manner that is further proof as to how incredibly uninformed of reality the players are.  The NFLPA has every ability to negotiate the terms and conditions for how the league takes care of them in retirement.  It is on the NFLPA to fight for every point you think the league should address.  The money is there, but current players are unwilling to give up any of theirs for those in need that are no longer in the league.  They are more than willing to suggest the owners should give up theirs.  Sure, that is no surprise.  It is also a weak stance to take on the issue.  

It is quite mind boggling that you can be so detached from reality that you think it unfair a retired player prove by going to doctors that they have an ailment that needs to be addressed.  It is equally so that you think deadlines shouldn't matter.  What world do you live in that you can be so far removed from reality?  Grow up.  

WOW, on the pay for postseason thing, you are about as dumb as a box of rocks.  Get a real job and find out how bonus structures work.  They are the EXACT same as the NFL.  Less than regular pay.  It is a BONUS, not a continuation of salary.  Additionally the revenues generated in the post season go into the pool of money that is the overall pay structure for every player in the league.  The money generated from those games does NOT just go to the players in those games.  Again, if you and other NFL players would like those bonuses to be much larger than they are, feel free to negotiate that through collective bargaining.  I am sure the NFL couldn't care less.  It is the same total amount the players are getting regardless, so get the NFLPA to change how it is spread out amongst the members of the union.  Do you even have any clue how collective bargaining works?

If the league were transparent about where fines ended up, I highly doubt you would take the time to look it up and find out for yourself where they end up.  I bet you want them to call you and tell you instead of you calling and finding out.  Yeah if you called you might find they would tell you, but you will just assume you can't find out.  

Yeah if you were commissioner, there would be no dress code.  Sure.  Yeah that makes total sense.  Yeah 'beast mode' is something the NFL should endorse.  Sure.  Considering all the reports out there about fraudulent player charities, the NFL should allow the league to be associated with and appear to endorse every player charity even when the league has not checked all of them to ensure their legitimacy.  Uh, the NFL will live on without you and any individual player.  So, no, the individual is not the reason the league exists and is successful.  Interesting that you fail to issue a single idea that shows an ounce of recognition or care that the entire league is NOTHING without the fans.  Without the fans, Richard, none of your concerns matter.  

Yeah the NFL does nothing to educate nor assist players in recognizing reality regarding the chance their career will be short and to financially prepare themselves for this potential reality.  NOTHING, right Richard?  What a joke.  Just because you fell asleep during the seminars you were forced to attend as a rookie, does not mean the league does not care and does nothing to make sure players can help THEMSELVES when their career ends.   Not surprising you take the side of the notion the NFL should treat all players like immature delinquents who need their hand held when their career is over so they can figure out what to do with the free education they got and the millions they earned playing.  Even a 3 year career with a rookie minimum salary is near a million dollars and somehow you figure this ex player needs more from the league.  Pathetic.  Get in touch with reality Richard.  

RichardFox
RichardFox

Oh hell yeah, while there some valid points, please stop the drama, if I was the president of the NFPA, I would demand guaranteed contracts, but that never comes up at contract time. Maybe some of members should file a DFR against the NFLPA WITH THE NLRB. FINALLY, YOU HAVE IT SO MUCH TOUGHER THAN OUR ARMED FORCES, COPS, FF'S and EMS workers who barely earn in a year, what you make in a couple of game checks. Get off the soapbox! Just keeping it real!

gropeaire
gropeaire

Great article...Well written.  Love ya Richard.

bchill15
bchill15

Once again... Richard Sherman proves he's more than just a blowhard corner. Great article. 

#GoHawks

ScottF2
ScottF2

I agree.  I have a REAL problem with Goodell and how he is destroying the game of football.  I understand intentional spearing or helmet to helmet hits but I've been seeing too many unintentional hits when the wr ducks to protect himself and the defenders helmet accidentally hits the wr's helmet.  The flag goes out!  I remember the ESPN highlights reels used to always have great hits and that is what made the NFL what it is.  Now that same reel is nothing but referee's yellow flags.  Protect the players as much as you can but don't forget that this is a violent game and always has been.  Let's not turn it into flag football. 

atepper001
atepper001

good luck getting big contract renewals with nike and other merchandise partners when you let players wear whatever they want. you do realize that will lower the revenue for the league and in turn, lower the amount that gets allocated to the salary cap / player salaries.  oh, and nothing on allowing PEDs, Richard?  or do you just assume only deserve to get off on a technicality, ryan braun style?

magicvilas
magicvilas

Alterations I'd make...

You can only wear real hair on the field, and it can't obscure your number.

T-Bone2
T-Bone2

I didn't like Sherman all that much until I read this article.  And here I thought he was a blowhard that was always looking to instigate something.  

Charlie520
Charlie520

I like Richard Sherman more every day.  Well said.

DavidGoldsmith
DavidGoldsmith

I'm tired of pro athletes complaining. They have it so bad, boo hoo.  There's a lot of things about jobs I've had that weren't fair too.  If it's such a bad deal, do something else. 


canine34
canine34

Does Pete Carroll let the players vote on who should start?  That would be a democracy, right, Richard?  Wouldn't that be SOOOO much better?

And the media and fans "didn't understand" why Meriweather said he would start hitting low?  It's nice to know Richard Sherman thinks anyone who does't put on a jock strap on Sunday is an idiot.


By the way, Ricky, Tom Brady's new contract guarantees him $57 million.    U mad bro?




btcvsolo
btcvsolo

VERY well spoken, Richard Sherman....

To an extent, Tagliabue & now Goodell have caused me and a few other friends to lose almost total interest in a league so enamored with itself. It wasn't like this back in the Pete Cozelle era, but I digress....

You speaking up MIGHT -I hope- restore some individuality to a league so hell-bent on being just another corporate machine..


RajaJack
RajaJack

I'm in total agreement with Richard Sherman. To this date we don't know where the fines are headed. Secondly, the low hits are being forced by defensive players having no other viable option.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@terrace420 Lighten up Frances.  Calling Richard out for being far too uninformed to write a piece about what he would do as commissioner with any substantive and pertinent ideas and points, does not mean I am not a fan of his play on the field.  Heck I hope the Hawks win the Super Bowl.  I hope he wins defensive player of the year.  

That does not change the facts though about his stated opinions.  I think it may be best if he just shut up and play  football until he knows more of what he speaks of.  It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and leave no doubt. 

Renegade_2010
Renegade_2010

@FollowtheMoney What's wrong with celebrations? It's a GAME! They should be allowed to celebrate momentarily for doing something good for their TEAM. Chill.

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@terrace420 ya know the forty whiners are pretty much the only ones that troll our hawks pages lol they are so envious of us

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@randomdeletion your stupidity is giving me a head ache damn stop being so stupid you moron the NFL would not have a product to sell fans if they had no players as well as the owners would have nothing to sell fans stopped watching yes only thing you said that made sense  you moron

RichardFox
RichardFox

I am no fan of Goodell, but get real, the situation was mounting with players brains scrambled, not too mention the annual cost of disability payments escalating every year. He got his ass handed to him for not doing enough regarding player safety. So he is a bad guy now because the game does satisfy your blood lust? Get back on your meds!

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@atepper001 clearly you are a forty whiners fan talking smack first off no one should have known about his case until he lost his appeal which he did not lose he won his appeal there for nothing should have been reported on it just like the many other players all around the league that get fined for ped then get cleared on appeals and no mention of it being said I bet if all were mentioned there would be a lot of players being accused of this and only very few of them losing on appeals

Median2
Median2

@Charlie520 

Yup, glad to see at least some players are using their heads. Seriously though transparency is good, you need to be open about this s--- or problems will keep coming up 10 years down the line.

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@canine34 that is just the Patriots stupidity if he decided tomorrow to quit he would get that money and that is why Guarenteed contracts shouldn't be they should have a clause in them if player just stops playing kinda like Shawn Alexander did to us got a big contract and then quit I personally think they make way to much money those who make big bucks like QB[s running backs etc.. 

jmwalsh86
jmwalsh86

@canine34 A few quick things. If the players were to vote on who started Richard Sherman would start every game, so I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind too much. Plus, he didn't say that every aspect of the NFL should be ruled by democracy; he said the fining system should, I don't see how that doesn't make sense. I don't care how much money you're making, if someone reaches into your wallet and takes 5 - 7.5 thousand dollars for a uniform infraction you're not going to like anything about the experience. The other thing is your limited understanding of how contracts work. Tom Brady's contract is a 5 year deal (really a 3 year extension on his previous deal with the remaining salary due to him converted into a massive signing bonus). Sherman stated that Goodell's salary is $30 million, if that were a 5 year deal it would be to the tune of somewhere over $100 million - for making poor decisions (like paying for bad science to refute the real science about concussions). 

mickd17
mickd17

@canine34 Just a couple things to chew on. 

Sherman's democratic take on fines makes sense and your analogy is way off. In fact, Pete Carroll doesn't make the decision as to who starts on his own as you proclaim. Who starts is a decision made by a collective group of position coaches, coordinators, and the head coach. But, I'm guessing you've never been a part of a coaching staff and without having that experience I can see how one might have the opinion you do... unfortunately, it is wrong. 

There were plenty of media members who reacted to Meriweather's comments as if he was speaking literally when he said he was going to aim for ACLs. Read a paper, turn on a television, there were plenty of people who clearly didn't understand. Meriweather was not stating he was going to play with the intent to injure guys, which many media outlets were reporting.

And Sherm is still on his rookie deal... very soon he will be the highest paid corner in the game, so I am pretty sure he ain't mad bro.

GO HAWKS!

JohnEpp
JohnEpp

@RajaJack Ok, just a quick correction if I could.

David Krichavsky, the NFL's director of community affairs said this a couple of years ago and I don't think it's changed, though it might have as I can't find anything newer.  

 "Player fine money is used to support retired player programs, as well as other charitable causes as agreed upon between the NFL and NFL Players Association," said David Krichavsky, the NFL's director of community affairs. "Every letter notifying the player of a fine indicates where the fine money goes. I have gotten feedback from players who don't like writing the check to the NFL, but they are pleased to know it does not go back into our coffers but to charitable organizations."

atepper001
atepper001

@PaulMaggard @terrace420 huh? the 9ers (which i am not a fan of) and their 5 trophy's are envious of a team that has won ZERO meaningful games in their entire  history?

standarsh
standarsh

@PaulMaggard @terrace420 Envy? You're right, The 9ers don't have any excellent moments like Super Bowl 40. Sorry to burst your bubble bro, but the Seahawks will poop the bed. They always do.

atepper001
atepper001

@PaulMaggard @atepper001 try using a period every once in a while. i am not a 9er fan; i simply am not a fan of cheaters regardless of whether or not the results should have been reported. and especially when those cheaters are praised as great people and role models for others. doesn't matter what team, what sport, what occupation... cheaters should not be praised and should be held accountable. he cheated and got away with it on a technicality. i could care less if it should not have been reported. 

4clake4
4clake4

@standarsh Since when has winning the Super Bowl 43-8 been considered pooping the bed?

ljlowber
ljlowber

@PaulMaggard Seahawks always poop the bed? Any chance you want to rethink that statement? I will never understand people that apparently have so much time on their hands they choose to spend it insulting their rivals (thanks for the extra motivation!) instead of supporting their own teams with positivity and encouragement. Sorry I'm not sorry the 49ers season is over thanks to none other than the fantastic and eloquent gentleman that wrote this article. Get a hobby dude.

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@T-Bone2 @mickd17 @canine34 ya and I sure hope he is still on our team once he is getting paid big money hope he isn't like every other great player we have had that has run off for the money cause for once I'd like to see us keep our great players

Newsletter